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Need to Know: Last look—A tough task for the Redskins in Dallas

Need to Know: Last look—A tough task for the Redskins in Dallas

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 24, 10 days before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Cowboys 4:30 pm, FOX, Redskins Kickoff 3:30, CSN

Days until: Redskins @ Cardinals 10; Redskins @ Eagles 17; Panthers @ Redskins 25

Injuries of note
LS Sundberg (back)
Questionable: DE Chris Baker (hamstring/illness), WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Cowboys

Take it away: The Cowboys have been very sticky fingered all year long but particularly lately. They have just two turnovers in their last four games. A Cowboys takeaway is an ever more unusual occurrence; they have one in their last four games and none in their last three. In their last four games the Redskins have given the ball away four times and they have five takeaways. The Washington offense had no turnovers for the first time this year against the Packers. If the Redskins can keep their grip on the ball and perhaps force one or two takeaways on the Cowboys they will be in pretty good shape.

When you get it, keep it: The Dallas defense has faced just 600 plays this year, an average of 60 per game. Only two teams have faced fewer. Once teams do manage to get the ball after Zeke Elliott’s running and Dak Prescott’s short, accurate passes grind up the clock they move the ball fairly well. They average run 6.4 plays per drive (25th in the NFL) and 34.8 yards per drive (27th). The bottom line is that they allow an average of 1.92 points per drive, in the middle of the pack, 17th in the NFL. In these terms, they are an average to below average defense. The Redskins need to take advantage of that and put together long drives to keep the Dallas offense off the field.

Dez vs. Josh: A year ago, the Panthers thumped the Cowboys and Josh Norman, then with Carolina, helped hold Dez Bryant to two catches for 26 yards. Last September Bryan had a much better day, catching seven for 102. Norman did not follow Bryant from side to side in Week 2 until the fourth quarter in a classic case of locking the barn door after the horse had been stolen. Bryant dealt with injury and he has just 28 receptions on the year. But he has been heating up lately with a combined 12 receptions for 196 yards. Joe Barry should let the cornerbacks play sides to start out; Bashaud Breeland has had some success against Bryant in the past. But if Bryant starts to get on a roll Barry can’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

How will we like them after the game? This is the Redskins’ toughest assignment of the season and it really isn’t close. The Cowboys are on a roll, they are at home, and they are very confident. The Redskins also are hot and confident but they are dealing with a bad matchup. Their rushing defense is one area where the team continues to struggle. I don’t see them stopping, or even slowing down, Elliott running behind that Dallas offensive line. That will make it a tough go because even in a passing league it’s going to be a long day when the other team can run on you. I think the Redskins’ best chance will come if Norman can come through with a big takeaway, maybe a pick six. Since he has managed just one interception this year you can’t count on that happening.

Cowboys 30, Redskins 24

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Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more


Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more

More than 100 days remain before the Redskins take the field in meaningful NFL action.

Any and all excitement needs to be tempered, significantly, because what happens on a practice field in May without pads does not represent what will happen in September, October and beyond. 

Still, the Redskins group that took the field this week for OTAs showed promise. 

New quarterback Alex Smith looked crisp, connecting with a variety of wideouts and commanding the huddle. New wideout Paul Richardson made the best play of the session when he streaked down the field past rookie cornerback Greg Stroman and hauled in a deep pass from Smith. The play showed Smith's ability to identify open receivers downfield, as well as Richardson's ability to go up and grab a contested catch. Even Stroman, the seventh-round rookie, positioned himself well, he just fell victim to a perfect pass and tremendous athleticism.

That was only one play in a two-hour session. Again, don't take too much from May, when players don't wear pads or engage in any of the violence that the NFL is predicated upon. But the OTAs do serve a purpose, both for players and coaches, and there were nuggets to absorb and try to project for the fall. Here they are:

  • Jay Gruden made clear he's not concerned about the health of his offensive line. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are recuperating from offseason surgery, but Gruden believes both are on track for when things start to matter. It's a good thing the coach isn't concerned because this was the 'Skins line in OTAs (left to right): Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, John Kling. Should that lineup take the field this fall, there will be trouble. 
  • The Redskins lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason, and the secondary depth will be something to watch throughout training camp. At OTAs, newly signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick lined up opposite Josh Norman in the team's base 3-4 defense. In nickel and dime coverage, Quinton Dunbar lined up opposite Norman and Scandrick moved to the slot. As things progress, it will be interesting to see if Dunbar surpasses Scandrick in base coverage, and what becomes of 2017 third-round pick Fabian Moreau. Stay tuned.  
  • Rookie running back Derrius Guice looked every part of the first-round talent many judged him to be before draft season rumors caused him to slide to the late second round. Guice cuts with authority and is able to see holes before they form and patiently wait to hit the open space. Guice also looked fine in pass-catching drills, one area that was a question coming out of LSU (but that says more about LSU's prehistoric offense). Watching the Redskins offense work, it seems clear Guice will be the heaviest used runner this fall.
  • That said, don't count out Robert Kelley. He looks leaner and plenty quick, showing a few impressive runs during the session. Byron Marshall also looked good, and Gruden pointed out his success in his post-OTA press conference. The running back group will have plenty of competition all the way through Richmond. 
  • Jonathan Allen has switched jersey numbers from 95 to 93. Rookie Daron Payne is now wearing 95. Payne and Allen both went to Alabama, both are huge, and both play defensive line. The number switch will take some getting used to. 
  • Zach Brown missed the OTA session as he was moving, and interestingly in his spot with the starting defense was Josh Harvey-Clemons. The second-year pro out of Louisville showed impressive speed in coverage, and remember he played safety in college and performed quite well. He has ball skills and great size to be a coverage linebacker. Some were surprised when the Redskins kept JHC last season at the cut to 53, but his development appears to be paying off for the organization. 
  • Another linebacker that made a play was Zach Vigil. He impressed for the Redskins late last season and was running the Washington second-team defensive huddle. At one point, Vigil broke through the line of scrimmage and blew up a run play. That prompted D.J. Swearinger to yell from the sideline, "OK Zach. OK ZACH!"
  • Speaking of Swearinger, the Redskins defensive captain seemed in midseason form when it comes to yelling encouragement on the field. Nobody hypes up the defense like Swearinger, particularly when the secondary makes a big play. On one pass Dunbar made a nice diving play to break up a pass, and Swearinger and Josh Norman got very fired up, shouting and jumping around. The entire defense responded. Little stuff like that helps disrupt the monotony of offseason work. 
  • Jamison Crowder looks jacked and quick. The end. 





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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

NBC Sports Washington

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 25, 62 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Trades, misses and mistakes explain Redskins' dead cap—This post does a good job of outlining where the Redskins’ dead cap came from. It should be noted that dead cap is a part of the cost of doing business in the NFL and the Redskins have done fairly well managing it this year. Only about a dozen teams have less dead cap on the books than the Redskins $5.2 million. 

Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins—I received some comments saying that my worst-case scenario, a 6-10 finish, is not low enough. Since we’re talking about events that won’t begin to happen for about three and a half months, I can’t really argue with them. But it’s just hard for me to see them dropping more than a game from last year when they were hit harder with injuries than any other team in the NFL. 

Pre-OTAs Redskins player one-liners, defense—An extension for Matt Ioannidis seemed preposterous a year ago, now it seems like a good idea. How many sacks for Lanier? When will Ryan Anderson get his first sack? Plus offensive player one-liners here

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp—You can’t tell everything from OTAs, but you can tell some things. Taking another look at this post, I gave a good, detailed look at the session, but I didn’t really mention the overall feel, which was fun and energetic. 

Tweet of the week

Certainly, Derrius Guice is the fan favorite of the rookie class. But the great reaction to this tweet shows that there is plenty of love for Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, last year’s top pick. 

In 2016, the starting defensive line consisted of Ricky Jean Francois, Chris Baker, and  Ziggy Hood. The top reserve was Cullen Jenkins. They all had their good qualities and made some plays. But Baker was the youngster of the group and he turned 30 during the season. It clearly was a group on the decline. 

Two years later, the picture is quite different. Payne and Allen lead a younger group that will get better over the next few years. Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Tim Settle, and Stacy McGee should round out the group. McGee is by far the senior member of the group at age 28. None of the others have celebrated his 25thbirthday yet. 

Fans should perhaps temper their optimism with the knowledge that potential doesn’t always develop into performance. But unlike years past there is something to look forward to. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler


Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 18
—Training camp starts (7/26) 62
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 76

The Redskins last played a game 145 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 107 days. 

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